You can find Day 1 Here.
You can find Day 2 Here.
Day 3, we spent a great deal of time examining the Sacramento / San Joaquin Bay Delta, the Hub of the State Water Project and the area around which most of the controversy swirls. An entire article could be devoted to the history of the Delta area but I’ll keep it brief. Prior to 150 years ago the Delta was one of the largest natural estuaries on the continent. Hundreds of species of animal, thousands of birds and untold schools of fish called this area home.
Following the discovery of gold upstream in the American, Sacramento and Feather Rivers, the Delta came to be looked on as a local source for food so piece by piece levees were constructed, channeling the flow of water away from the tule marshes which were ‘reclaimed’ as farmland. Today nearly 700 miles of waterways criss-cross the Delta between mud banks and levees making some 57 ‘islands’ of rich peat soil growing everything from rice to oranges and almonds and cattle.
Water making its way south from the Sacramento River must first wend its way through this maze of intersecting canals, irrigate hundreds of acres of crops, run-off with 100’s of kinds of fertilizers and contaminants, mix with saline inflow from San Francisco Bay, pick up fish of every conceivable native and non-native variety and then find the intake to the State Water Project at the Banks Pumping Station.
where it gets tricky.
Many experts believe the Delta is unsustainable in its present form. A hundred year storm event or earthquake (both severely overdue) would wreak havoc on the fragile and unnatural ecosystem that has been built up in the Delta. Not only would a calamitous event damage the Delta it would disrupt the flow of much needed water to the San Joaquin Valley, which produces as much as 45% of the nations fruits and vegetables, as well as cutting off most of the water supply to some 30 million Southern California residents and businesses, leaving only the meager resources of the Colorado River.
What to do? Well, what should have
been done was to
build what is commonly referred to as the
In 2006 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order to establish a “Delta Vision” Blue Ribbon Task Force that would provide comprehensive recommendations for management of the Delta “We must address the health of the delta because our current practices are not sustainable,” he said. Proposed solutions takes many forms but primarily rely on the creation of a diversion or peripheral canal that circumscribes the Delta area bringing high quality water directly to the head of the California Aqueduct system. At the same time as many as 40 of the Deltas 57 islands would be flooded to reduce the continuing subsidence, replenish groundwater resources, vastly increase habitat for environmentally sensitive species, return native migratory and tidal patterns, reduce salinity levels from Bay backwash and return the Delta to it’s former glory as one of the nations top estuaries.
the meanwhile we should all do what we can to
conserve. If you saw what all goes into getting a clean glass of water
tap, you would be much less inclined to waste the 75% of water that
your lawn or even the extra 5 gallons a day that runs down the drain
brush your teeth. The eventual solution will be time consuming and
and no great project is without its challenges.
there really is a water crisis looming.
Through good management our water companies have shielded us from the
it but a day of reckoning is fast approaching. You think the financial
is bad today? Central and Southern California produce only about 20% of
annual water needs through rainfall and groundwater yet we consume
of the states current water supply while the solution runs off into the
until a major quake or storm disrupts the Delta and
For more information on how you can get involved, contact Mr. Phil Rosentrater, External Affairs Officer for the Western Municipal Water District at email@example.com. You can also find more information about the peripheral canal by visiting www.mwdh2o.com, www.aguanomics.com or www.latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace.